Somewhat Counterintuitive

Inside Higher Ed reports on a study out of Quebec examining aid levels and graduation rates:

The study, by Matthieu Chemin, assistant professor of economics at the University of Quebec in Montreal, compares the behavior of students from families with incomes under $20,000 before and after [a policy change that lightened the tuition burden on poor students]; it also compares their behavior with Quebeçois students with higher incomes as well as those from other Canadian provinces, notably British Columbia, where student aid policies did not change.

The change in student aid policy in Quebec resulted in a 5-7 percentage point increase in the likelihood that students from low-income families would receive grant aid, Chemin’s study found. That increase translated, he found, into a 4-6 percentage point increase in the likelihood of students’ entering postsecondary education — especially important in Quebec, whose enrollment rates lagged significantly those elsewhere in Canada.

But on one important indicator, the changes in Quebec’s student aid policies seems not to have had a beneficial effect. The data compiled by Chemin show that “the evolution of Quebec graduation rates did not outperform the evolution of graduation rates in British Columbia or the rest of Canada,” he writes.

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Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.